Veterinary Assistant

Veterinary Assistant

Start a Veterinary Career in One Year 

As a Veterinary Assistant student, you'll prepare for a career working with animals in a variety of settings such as veterinary clinics, boarding kennels, and grooming salons.

You'll study animal diseases and disease prevention, small animal pharmacology, pet grooming, kennel management, animal behavior, nutrition, legal principles, human relations, communication, and computer science.

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Paying for your degree may be easier than you think with our financial aid and scholarships. Kirkwood offers more than $3 million in scholarships for students each year!

Graduates of the Veterinary Assistant program will be able to:

  • Explain and demonstrate front office and practice management procedures.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of veterinary ethics and state and federal regulations related to veterinary practice and animal welfare.
  • Recognize the principles and demonstrate the methods of disease control.
  • Demonstrate kennel and animal management, including safe cleaning, disinfection, animal handling and nutrition.
  • Perform therapeutic bathing and basic grooming of dogs and cats.
  • Provide excellent customer service and client education.
  • Provide appropriate assistance in examination and treatment of small animals.
  • Prepare surgical equipment and patients and perform surgical assistance and patient recovery.
  • Perform selected animal nursing, laboratory procedures and diagnostic imaging.
  • Adhere to industry standards and OSHA for safe handling, storage, dispensing and administration of veterinary drugs.

Before acceptance into our program, you'll be required to attend a one-hour program conference where you'll gain more information about our program and ask any questions you may have.

Frequently Asked Questions

No. You’ll want to take Pre-Veterinary Medicine course through our Arts and Sciences Division; then transfer to a four-year college or university to receive a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Animal Science, Physics or Biology. After that, you’ll attend veterinary school and work toward your Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.

Self-motivation; a goal-oriented attitude; an outgoing, friendly personality; and maturity are needed to be successful in this career. Working with a veterinarian on a paid or volunteer basis is also a good idea and will expose you to all aspects of the career –including sights, smells, sounds and issues that may be hard to deal with including euthanasia.

The State of Iowa does not currently license, register or certify veterinary assistants. Prospective students should familiarize themselves with state regulations in the jurisdiction where they intend to become employed.

Entrance Requirements

  1. All students applying for admission into the Veterinary Technician or Veterinary Assistant programs will be required to take the HESI entrance exam.
  2. Once a student applies for the program, they will receive an exam voucher by attending a program conference.
  3. The HESI exam must be taken at the Test Center in 2055 Cedar Hall. The hours for the Test Center can be found at Students must schedule a time, in advance, to take the exam by calling 319-398-5456. All students should have their first attempt at the exam completed by the first part of February.
  4. On the day of the scheduled exam, students will take the voucher to the Kirkwood Community College Main Campus Bookstore and purchase the exam access. The cost of the exam is $42. Cash and debit/credit card payments are accepted. Please note the exam cost is subject to change.
  5. Once the payment is made, the student will take voucher and original payment receipt to the Test Center to take the scheduled exam. The voucher and receipt must be presented in order to take the exam. The exam can take up to four hours to complete. Student must pass with minimum cut scores prior to being fully accepted into the program. Students are able to make two attempts at the exam. The needed exam scores for both the Veterinary Assistant and Veterinary Technician program are listed below.
  6. Once the student has completed the exam, they will need to take a copy of their test results to Washington Hall and meet with Ashley Moeller or Holly Feldmann to discuss the next steps.
  7. It is suggested that students prepare for this exam in advance. The Kirkwood main campus library has copies of the HESI Admission Assessment Exam Review workbook. The review workbook is also available to order on Amazon (ISBN: 978-0-323-35378-6). HESI practice tests can be found online.
  8. Students must also register for a program conference. This is a meeting with faculty to outline details and expectations of the specific program. Call Animal Health at 319-398-5609 to register.

The needed exam scores for both programs are listed below.

Exam Veterinary Technician Veterinary Assistant
English 77 Composite 60 Composite
Grammar 75 40
Reading 75 70
Vocabulary 75 70
Math 80 69
Biology 75 55
Chemistry 73 N/A

Mission Statement

The Veterinary Assistant program provides students with a broad background and excellent entry-level technical skills essential to professional assistants to the animal care industry.


Agricultural Sciences
22 Washington Hall